C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Illegal Lifting of Passengers
CTU conductor kidnapped, thrashed

Mohali cops rescue him; arrest Ambala Syndicate worker
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 9
The ongoing tension between Ambala Bus Syndicate and CTU officials over lifting of passengers illegally and the parking problem took an ugly turn when six Syndicate employees attempted to kidnap a local transport worker from the ISBT, Sector 43, here today.

Pal Singh, a CTU conductor, was kidnapped by six Syndicate employees, including driver Charan Singh, conductor Manjit Singh, Sukhpal Matto, Makhan Singh and two others, in their bus but timely intervention by Mohali traffic cops saved the CTU employee from being kidnapped.

The police arrested Sukhpal Singh while the other five managed to give the slip.

Reacting sharply, CTU employees, who gathered at the bus stand in big numbers, immediately deflated the tyres of the nine buses of the Syndicate.

Lifting of long-route passengers illegally by the private transport was the reason behind the tiff.

Talking to The Tribune, Pal Singh alleged that he was preventing the Syndicate staff from lifting passengers to cities for which they had no valid permits. “Miffed over the issue, the six persons forcibly took me to their bus from the ISBT and tried to take me to an unknown place. I alerted the cops when I saw them at the Sector 70 light point in Mohali. They gave a chase on their motorcycle to save me. The Syndicate staff also beat me up in the running bus. I was lucky as the Mohali police saved me”, said Pal Singh.

On the other hand, Sukhpal, station supervisor of Syndicate transport, who was arrested, alleged that it was CTU people who bothered them daily on one or the other pretext. “We have valid permits and want to do our duty peacefully but they (CTU) always try to dominate”, said Sukhpal, while maintaining that Pal Singh was taken in the bus and was also beaten up by his colleagues.

Meanwhile, the police has registered a case under Sections 363, 365, 323, 506 and 34, IPC, against the accused.

The commuters were a harried lot following the morning tussle between the two transports employees. Where they suffered in the morning due to deflating of tyres of buses, the situation worsened in the evening when over 30 employees of Syndicate turned up at the ISBT at 7 pm today. To avoid any unpleasantness, the station supervisor of the bus stand called up the police. Due to commotion, many short route buses like Morinda and Ropar could not ply resulting in stacking of commuters in a big number. They faced harassment for around 45 minutes at the place.



Booming call drops a headache for customers
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 9
Manvendra Rathee, a city lawyer, was in the midst of clinching a deal with a client in Bangalore, when he was hit by the call drop. In the four minute conversation that he had with his corporate client, he experienced six call drops.

“Since we were negotiating on the terms of an agreement, the clients thought that I was deliberately disconnecting the phone. It was very embarrassing as I had to offer explanations for the frequent call drop, saying that I was in a black hole (where cellular network fails because of insufficient cellular sites). Though I called up the customer care division of the cellular operator to complain, they said they couldn’t help me as it was a regular phenomenon in all networks,” he rues.

Even as cellular operators are harping about the increase in its subscriber base, they have failed to take into account the poor quality of service and the alarmingly high call drop rates. Though the rate of call drop even in the developed countries is 2 per cent, the alleged failure of the cellphone companies in network optimisation and expanding its cellular sites is leading to a high rate of call drops.

Says Raghav Kapoor, a student of Panjab University, “In the past couple of months, the problem has become serious and one has to make four calls to talk to one person. While the cellular operator will charge you for four calls, customers are cheated for no fault of theirs”.

He adds that he even shifted to another GSM operator, thinking that the problem would subside. “But this too did not help, as the call drop rates are high across all cellular networks,” he alleges.

Conceding that the call drop rates in the city are high, the cellular operators say that the main reason is that they are not being allowed to set up cellular sites in residential areas.

Says Sanjeev Kumar Saxena, CEO, Airtel, “We have taken up the matter with the Chandigarh Administration, asking them to allow us to install more cellular sites, who have now allowed us to set up sites in public parks. As the sites improve, we will be able to provide seamless connectivity minus call drops in another four months”.

Mukul Khanna, assistant vice-president, Spice Telecom, says that in the past six months, they have been able to sort out the problem of call drops substantially. “We have installed in-building solutions at critical buildings, identified high network traffic spots and increased our capacity; besides launching a network optimisation drive, especially in the areas where high rise buildings have come up,’ he adds.

Why it occurs?

Call drops can occur due to reasons such as non-homogeneous coverage, capacity issues during peak hours and insufficient frequency spectrum available to operators. In big cities, call drops can be noticeable in high-rise buildings, basements, lifts, totally enclosed areas like operation theatres in hospitals, etc. High concentration of signals on a particular sport can also lead to call drops.



PGI XEN nabbed with dirty money
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 9
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) today arrested Sandeep Kumar, XEN (Hospital Engineering Civil) from the office of the Engineering Department of the PGI on the charges of taking bribe from a contractor.

CBI sleuths caught the accused red-handed while he was taking Rs 30,000 from the complainant. The complainant came to the officer of the XEN, along with a witness and the sleuths of the CBI at around 5 pm.

According to sources in the CBI, the accused was on the list of the contractor, who used to demand money for every work that was allotted to the contractors. It was said that the accused demanded an additional percentage of commission during the course of the work.

Sandeep Kumar, SDO in the Chandigarh Housing Board, was promoted to the XEN in the Engineering Department on June 15, 2007. The contractors started that the XEN has minted money since the time of his appointment in the office.

The sources said an additional amount of Rs 35,000 was also seized from his vehicle (CH-03-Y-4713) of Sandeep Kumar. He demanded a sum of Rs 30,000 for smooth functioning of the work, which was to be handed over today. Thirty notes in the denomination of Rs 1000 were given to the accused, at the time he was arrested.

The officials of the CBI searched the entire office of the department and even recovered certain important documents pertaining to the record. The sleuths noted every minute details related with the case.

The source added that there are possibilities of involvement of other members of the engineering department in this case.



39 DAYS GONE still counting ...
Go by merit strictly

There are too many officers and channels involved in the process to select officers in inter-state deputation with the Chandigarh Administration.

It is a long-drawn process right from selection to clearance of name by the Government of India and then repatriation to the parent state.

At certain level, the local administration should be empowered to recommend the officials strictly on merit. Even the Central Government should strictly go by the merit.

Functioning of the administration certainly suffers in such a situation.

— P.H. Vaishnav, former chief secretary, Punjab



1 killed 5 hurt in tractor-car collision
Rajiv Bhatia

Zirakpur, May 9
One person was killed and at least five injured when a speeding car banged into a tractor trolley on the Choice Resort road here late this evening.

The deceased Chandesar (25) was among the six migrant labourers sitting in the trolley on their way back from a construction site in Chandigarh to their houses in Baltana. Other than four labourers, the driver of the car was also injured in the accident.

Pramod, brother of the victim, was also in the trolley and told TNS that Chandesar was sitting at the back and the car driver hit the trolley. He said the car was coming from the Baltana side and rushing towards Zirakpur.

The car driver Pradeep Kumar Rana, a transporter belonging to Teor village, Kharar, was on his way home when he lost control of his vehicle (Zen CH03Q 1489) and banged into the tractor trolley coming from the opposite side. Pradeep escaped with some injuries but seemed to have a miraculous escape as the driver side of the car was completely crushed in the accident. The trolley upturned due to the impact and Chandesar got crushed under the trolley. Chandesar was from Bihar and was staying with his brother in Baltana. The police reached the spot within minutes of the accident but an ambulance reached only after half an hour. The Choice Resort road does not have any functional street lighting.



Save Our Sukhna

As always, Chandigarhites have articulated an impassioned response to the Chandigarh Tribune's Save Our Sukhna (SOS) campaign. Readers have givenvaluable suggestions that could help revive the city's richest treasure, which sadly is in peril today. While engineers have given technical suggestions to tackle the problem of the rapidly shrinking Sukhna bed, other residents have penned fond recollections of the delightful times they have spent at the lake to plead for the institution of citizen-government initiatives to restore the Sukhna to its former glory. Some concerned readers have even suggested the revival of Shramdan, which was abandoned by the administration some years ago. We carry here a selection of your overwhelming response and sincerely hope your suggestions will help in finding a sustaining solution to Save Our Sukhna.

Extend Kajauli water pipeline

The world over, manmade lakes and natural lakes near habitats are used as drinking water reservoirs. To preserve our lake, its conversion to a reservoir for drinking water will provide it the required focus, giving it a new lease of life in terms of basic requirements of improvement, upkeep and maintenance.

I suggest the following steps:

— Stop the muddy rainwater from catchment areas into the lake during the monsoons.

— Dry bed excavation of lake in three to four phases starting from the regulator end with water emptied successively into the excavated area. Most rudimentary and cost-effective mode of tractor-trailers equipped with scrapers may be used at a war footing during one dry season.

— Extending the Kajauli water pipeline till the lake at a one-time cost of about 5 km from Sector 39.

— Alternatively a stand alone pipeline can be planned from Kajauli as an economic greenfield project to meet expanding water needs for the next 50 years funded by central schemes such as JNURUM.

Rajanbir Singh, Chandigarh

Need for fresh thinking

Our Sukhna has enriched city residents and tourists with good memories and solitude. It is worthwhile to mention that silting of the Sukhna Lake is not an isolated instance; this is a problem which is prevalent worldwide. It is imperative for the administration to consider solutions used worldwide.

The attitude of the bureaucracy has not been much helpful. Apart from sending out teams to study roads, bridges, and other networks, it has done precious little. The restoration and upkeep of facilities have been ignored.

Another factor that has been ignored is the fact that the desilted silt itself increases the organic value of the soil and thus has the potential to generate revenue.

Simran Kaur, Chandigarh

Lease out Sukhna

Located on the northern fringe of Chandigarh, Sukhnais the crowning glory of the City Beautiful. But faced with the cancerous accumulation of silt on its bed, the lake is dying a slow death. Despite "shramdans" and dredging, there is no sign of recovery. "Joon joon kia ilaj, marz badhta gya".

Corbusier in selecting the site may have erred in assessing the basic nature of the soil upstream of the rivulets flowing into the lake. Called "gilli goha, sookhi loha", the rain-drenched soil cannot withstand the force of rainwater gushing from the upper hills.

Mixed with water, it gets deposited on the lake-bed, the digging/dredging of which is just an exercise in futility. Extensive plantation of plants/trees and special grass in catchments areas to stop soil erosion reinforced by dams/bands on feeding rivulets to slow down the flow are the only.

In this age of privatisation, leasing out the lake to a multinational tourist company can be considered.

S.S. Beniwal, Chandigarh

Take help of engineers

The lake is a great attraction for tourists as well as the locals . It is, therefore, essential to preserve it in a fit and fine form. The problem of silt has remained since the beginning. A lot has already been said in the media regarding steps to be taken in the catchment area and other remedial measures. The issue was also discussed threadbare some time back at the Institution of Engineers (India), Punjab and Chandigarh centre.

The administration should form a committee comprising an irrigation engineer from Punjab or Haryana, an officer from the forest department and an engineer from the engineering department of Chandigarh. The committee should be directed to take stock of the ground situation and propose measures which should be taken up expeditiously to save the lake.

G. R. Kalra, Chandigarh

Expand pondage

The lake was formed by raising an earthern stone-pitched dam to retain the flow from Kansal and Sukhna choes (nadis) which converge at the north-eastern spillway end. These rivulets emerge from the Kolhai- Dun and Chandimandir foothills. The Kasauli hills and aforesaid catchment of the lake are separated by the Sirsa nadi.The objective of creating the water body was to provide aquatic sports, ambience and recreational facilties to the City Beautiful.

A study in 1959 revealed a life expectancy of about 17 years for the lake due to high silt inflows from the riveulets. Extensive afforestation and concerted soil conservation measures in upstream Kansal-ki-Khol and Nepli catchments have been successful in retarding the process.

With these topographical, hydrological and ecological features, the primary solution lies in retaining, deepening and enlarging the existing pondage.

Past mechanical excavations up to eight feet had to be undertaken immediately upstream of the undersluices to expose and raise it’s crest and the high flood level by two feet. The dry summer period from April to June should be utilised in large-scale mechanical excavation, for removal of about seven feet of silt to connect the existing crest of the spillway to the deepest bed on the western end of the lake.

The existing water body could be conserved during the excavations by retaining a thin peripheral dyke to be demolished in the final stage. Inter-connecting and draining existing cess pools into the spillway would facilitate enlarging the dry area.

Demarcation of excavation zones and allowing free removal of earth by private agencies would be an expeditious and remunerative proposition. These zones could be auctioned for generation of revenue. Large-scale developmental activity in the adjoining areas of Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarg.

Already valuable time has been lost in symbolic " Shramdan" and academics of wet-dredging and other alternatives.

K.N. Datt

Resume Shramdan

First of all I would like to compliment the title SOS-Save Our Sukhna. It is very ‘apt’. I have several fond memories of the lake where I have been boating, taking walks and enjoyed picnics with friends. I often bunked college to soak in the sun at the lake in the winter afternoons.

The ‘Shramdan’ was a good idea by the administration as it involved the common man in saving the property that they cumulatively hold dear. It brought the city residents together and unified them. School children learnt a valuable lesson in the preservation of environment. It was a symbol that brought life to the ‘open hand’ - a symbol signifying ‘open to give and open to receive’. Today" Shramdan" is a thing of the past.

Have the people abandoned this ‘gift’ to the city and want to run only to the malls? The Sukhna has generously opened itself to all and does it deserve to be ignored? Will the disappearance of the Sukhna not mean loss of winter home to many migratory birds?

Has CITCO forgotten its responsibility to give back what it has earned from the asset?

The Sukhna, is an essential part of Chandigarh and losing it would mean Chandigarh losing its soul. Wake up one and all - administration, CITCO, bureaucracy and residents.

Jasleen Kaur, Chandigarh

Ban rituals at lake

Though I am not a citizen of India anymore, I still call Chandigarh as my hometown.

First and foremost, celebrations of all festivals/gatherings at the lake that result in dumpings into the lake need to be banned outright and declared unlawful.

Also, sports festivals/competitions need to be barred. Boat rides must be conditional in the sense that riders are stopped from carrying items that could possibly be thrown into the lake.

Unless this can be effectively achieved, I do not see any other possibility in bringing back to the lake its old glory and splendour.

Other than this, silting is a cause for concern, and it surely can be taken care of through engineering. But human follies need to be taken care of.

Dr A. Aulakh, Sacramento, CA, USA

Leave it to experts

The Chandigarh administration has failed to save the Sukhna Lake. A few years back, it had initiated the exercise to remove accumulated silt manually. Thousands of man hours of citizens, students and others were wasted and finally the exercise abandoned.

Now the position of lake has become so deteriorated, it warrants immediate action. Since the task to save the Sukhna Lake is uphill, it would be in the fitness of things, if a committee of eminent experts in the field is constituted and its recommendations should be implemented without any further loss of time. It is added here that many experts especially retired civil engineers from Panjab and Haryana have already given their suggestions to save Sukhna with a minimal cost, but the administration has hardly given any heed. The situation warrants an immediate action.

S.K. Khosla Chandigarh

Sukhna ageing rapidly

The Sukhna is ageing faster than humans who visit it for health walk. Silt produced by deforestation seems to have choked its arteries - dry patches show up like a bony rib-cage. It has gone pale. The pristine glow is missing.

Rare birds, who once nestled in plenty under the cover of Sukhna’s cool vegetation, have abandoned it . Wildlife on its other side has receded into the quiet Shivaliks. Loud- speakers showering religious sermons drown the soothing melody of the sparkling ripples. Groups of devotees, chanting hymns and ringing bells, invade the Sukhna for immersing idols in its still waters.

Cuddling couples embarrass a coy Sukhna. Communication towers have ominously come up in the lake’s background. Nature’s canvas displaying a captivating pictorial view of the Kasauli hills has been sullied.

The serenity of the Sukhna is ripped asunder by copters hovering over the lake for landing at and taking off from the nearby Rajindra Park.

Though walkers are prohibited from getting their pets, access to the lake banks is free for stray dogs. The Sukhna is under formidable attack. Its' time to make an effort to save the ecological lifeline of the CityBeautiful.

Anita Kaushal, Chandigarh

Ensure flow of silt-free water

Contrary to common belief, the main culprit for Sukhna’s plight is paucity of water and not its silt.

The silt on its bed has never interfered with boating which is its main recreational function. On the other hand, silt heaps are a boon as these help in boating at the time of low water.

The present capacity of the lake is enough to meet its requirement of water for boating and annual evaporation losses. For this, we shall have to permit only silt-free water into the lake. Details of a foolproof device for the same costing less than Rs 1 crore were made available to the government in 2004. The government plan for desilting the lake at a cost of over Rs 50 crore is a technical blunder and needs to be dropped.

S.P. Malhotra, Panchkula

Stop abusing Sukhna

To preserve the tranquility of the Sukhna, Le Corbusier insisted on a ban on motor boats. Silt deposits year after year in the lake-bed reduces water storage capacity. Also, it must be ensured that people do not perform rituals at the lake.

Opinder Kaur Sekhon, Chandigarh

Conserve rainwater

I feel we should plant trees around the lake and have an underground water tank. During the rainy season it should be filled and during the summers it can be flowed into the lake. The cleaning process should be maintained as per the schedule. Corporate/NGOs should be involved.

Sushma Guleria, Chandigarh

Stop construction

I, along with my family visit Chandigarh twice a year as tourists from Delhi. During our stay in Chandigarh, We make sure to spend our mornings and evening at the Sukhna Lake.

Sukhna is the star attraction for our visit. During the mornings, the lake looks beautiful and morning walkers wish you even if they do not know you. n a way, the lake helps in uniting Indians.

My children recognise the ducks at the lake and have named them too. The evenings are splendid.

Constant drying of the lake is a matter of deep concern for all of us. This is mainly due to scanty rain, rapid construction on all sides of the lake which has destroyed the natural resouces for feeding the lake.

A similar thing happened to the Badkal lake in Haryana. Construction activity around it killed the natural resources and it dried up.The other reasons for the shrinking lake include construction of dams on rivers and streams that feed the lake, illegal bore wells built near the lake and changes in climate.

Recently, I saw news and ads by builders announcing posh housing projects near the lake. Such projects will spell doom for the gasping lake. It is time the Chandigarh authorities and state governments of Himachal and Haryana (equally to be blamed) wake up before its too late.

We want to keep coming to the lake for decades ahead.

Varinder K. Arora, New Delhi

No shortcuts, please

The administration has not ensured enough publuc participation in saving the lake, apart from"shramdan". There should be a permanent organisation of officials and public for a constant check. Awareness should be spread with the help of the print/electronic media, colleges and the university so that more hands and minds can work in unison.

Harpreet Singh, Chandigarh

Let rainwater flow

Wrong measures have resulted not only in silt deposits in the the lake but has also completely stopped the flow of rainw ater into the lake. There are over 100 check dams in addition to several water bodies which are being fed by rainwater which earlier used to flow into the lake.

Steps need to be taken to allow the flow of rainwater from seasonal rivulets into the lake in addition to desilting of the lake.

Dr G. S. Dhillon, Chandigarh



Pinjore, Kalka residents left high and dry
Arun Sharma
Tribune News Service

Residents of Abdullahpur colony queue up to collect water from a tanker at Pinjore on Friday.

Residents of Abdullahpur colony queue up to collect water from a tanker at Pinjore on Friday.
TROUBLED WATERS: Residents of Abdullahpur colony queue up to collect water from a tanker at Pinjore on Friday. A Tribune photograph

Panchkula, May 9
It is a strange dichotomy. Just 20 kilometres from Chandigarh, one of the most developed cities in the country, people do not even get daily supply of water. With water being supplied only twice a week, thousands of residents from Pinjore and Kalka are forced to store drinking water for days together.

To meet the needs of people, public health authorities at Pinjore have divided the town into three zones and each day only one zone is supplied water, leaving the others high and dry. At many places water does not even reach the taps due to low pressure.

Some people of the town rely on wells set-up at their houses since old times. Other needs are met by tankers. The absence of a proper sewerage system in the town also adds to the problem.

Before the government water supply was started in the town, water from 365 ‘bawris’ (small ponds) and wells in the houses was used for daily requirements. However, with the passage of time these ‘bawris’ were encroached upon by increasing population of the town or contaminated due to pollution in the area.

The water of wells in the houses was also contaminated after people set-up septic tanks.

Now the residents drink the water supplied by the municipal committee after chlorinating it. Water from the wells is used for other daily chores.

“The city is short of 70 litres of water per capita every day,” said a public health executive engineer, Manoj Bansal. We have submitted a proposal to the government to augment the supply by setting up a tubewell, a boosting pump and laying pipelines in the area at a cost of Rs 5.89 crores. But the proposal is yet to be approved, he said.

The situation is no better in the neighboring town of Kalka. Although public health authorities claim that there is merely 25 per cent shortage of drinking water in this town with a population of 35,000 people, they had no answer for what compelled them not to supply water to the city residents everyday.

“We are supplying eight lakh gallons of water every day,” said officials. Still people in the area are being supplied water only on alternate days.

“There is no regular supply and we have to use medicines to cleanse the stored water before consuming it,” said Manmohan, a city resident.



Mohali Civic Poll
Cong geared up for a tough battle
Chitleen K Sethi
Tribune News Service

Mohali, May 9
The Congress party cadre of SAS Nagar is all geared up to give the Shiromani Akali Dal candidates a tough fight in the forthcoming Zila Parishad and Block samiti elections.

With the SAD-BJP fielding their own candidates and with at least one MLA from the area belonging to the Congress, the party workers are sure that it would not be a clean sweep for the SAD.

“We are focusing on the fact that the Akali government has not performed. One year into power and the government has shown that it has nothing to offer to the people of Punjab,” said Rakesh Sharma, secretary of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee and Dera Bassi incharge of the party.

Attacking the Akali-BJP alliance, Sharma said the two parties could not even stay together in these elections. “This shows that even BJP feels that the Akalis have failed,” he said. He claimed that the Congress meetings were attracting huge crowds while those of the Akalis were going virtually unattended.

The Congress has fielded ten candidates for the Zila Parishad posts. At the block samiti level, the party has fielded 14 candidates for the Majri block, six for Kharar block and another 25 candidates for the Dera Bassi block.

For the block samiti polls in Dera Bassi the Congress has fielded Rajinder Singh from Jeoli, Jaspal Singh from Handesra, Narinder Singh from Barana, Bal Singh from Nagla, Kamal Manjit Singh from Mubarakpur, Mangat Ram from Pandwala, Paramjit Singh from Dappar, Gurjant Singh from Kheri Gujran, Gian Chand from Trivedi Camp, Jasbir Singh from Bhankarpur, Bachan Singh from Mirpur, Jagir Singh from Jwaharpur, Nirmal Kaur from Amlala, Karamjit Kaur from Charmari, Sukhvinder Kaur from Jator, Gian Kaur from Saidpura, Jarnail Kaur from Chadiala, Sarabjit Kaur from Dehar, Kuldeep Kaur from Rani Majra, Pawan Kumar from Bhagsi, Hari Singh from Chatt, Harbans Kaur from Lalru, Gurjeet Singh from Paragpur and Sumer Chand Singh from Samgoli.

In the Kharar block the Congress has fielded Sapinder Kaur from Daon, Rinku from Mullapur Garibdass, Labh Singh Milkh from Bari Karoran, Ramandeep Singh Sahoran from Alampur, Harpal Singh from Jandpur and Baljit Kaur from Kalewal.

In the Majri block the Congress has fielded Darabar Singh from Niholka, Ravinder Singh from Majri, Sukhdev Kaur from Teor, Gurmail Singh from Mirzapur, Balwinder Kaur from Tira, Ravinder Singh from Rani Majra, Kulwinder Kaur from Jayanti Majri, Manjit Kaur from Manakpur Sharif, Tarlochan Singh from Jhingra Kalana, Gurvinderjit Singh from Jhande Majra, Tejpreet Singh Teji from Parol, Harpal Kaur from Guno Majra and Rana Jatinderpal from Behlolpur.



CHB Sec-63 Scheme
2-bedroom flats most popular
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 9
Over one-thirds of the applicants for the Sector 63 scheme of the Chandigarh Housing Board (CHB) have applied for two-bedroom flats.

According to official sources, about 8,000 applicants of over 21,000 people, who applied for 1,976 four-storey flats to be constructed in four different categories, have applied for the two-bedroom dwellings units.

The figures also reveal that the two-bedroom offering of the board has proved to be the most popular among the residents of Chandigarh.

Contrary to earlier estimated figures, the second most popular category has been the three-bedroom flats for which over 4800 people have applied. The one-bedroom flats have attracted nearly 3,700 applicants, while the one-room EWS flats have the least number of applicants -- less than 2400.

Amar Nath, CEO of the CHB, claimed that the response to the scheme had been impressive considering the fact that for the first time the board barred those people from applying who even have a general power of attorney (GPA) in their name.

Another interesting aspect of the response to the scheme has been that the number of applicants who have got their deposit money financed from either Axis Bank or the SBI are nearly four times the number who have raised the finances through their own resources.

As against just over 4,800 people, who did not go for bank finance, there are over 16,350 who have got the money financed from the banks.

The category "A" three-bedroom flat with an area 1424 square feet will cost approximately Rs 39.57 lakh if the payment is made upfront. The category "B" two-bedroom flats with an area of 1075 square feet will cost Rs 29.14 lakh and a category "C" one- bedroom flat with an area of 684 square feet will cost Rs 17.15 lakh. The category "D" one-room flat for the EWS with an area of 340 square feet will cost Rs 5.66 lakh.



Proposal to keep ‘condemned’ buses running
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 9
If the Chandigarh Transport Department has its way, travelling in CTU buses could be a risky proposition. In the wake of shortage of “roadworthy” buses with the Chandigarh Transport Undertaking (CTU), the transport department is pushing its case hard to keep at least 30 such buses running which have outlived their life.

Not only these 30 buses, another 51 are due for condemnation as they have also outlived their life. As per the Central Government guidelines for state carriage vehicles, the buses after completing eight years or five lakh km — whichever is later — have to be condemned.

Even the Inspection Board of the State Transport Authority has objected to passing of these vehicles.

Sources reveal that the plea forwarded by the transport department was that the 30 buses could not be replaced due to administrative reasons, so the vehicles may be retained beyond eight years as their physical condition was very good and public did not suffer. To run the buses, the transport department needs a fitness certificate and fixation of age limit of the vehicles.

If the department failed to replace the buses in advance, accountability should be fixed. The process to procure the new buses should have been completed in advance.

Interestingly, the Finance Department has accepted a proposal to condemn the buses for which the transport department is seeking extension. An order of the Ministry of Surface Transport, advises the Chandigarh administration to adopt the DTC norms for CTU buses while scrapping old vehicles. As per the Chandigarh Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989, the power to issue the renewal of fitness certificate lies with the Inspection Board and no appeal can be made against it to the Secretary, Transport.

While the Home Department has been claiming that no lifetime has been fixed by the Central Government for the state carriage vehicles, the guidelines of the Transport Ministry were coming in the way of the extension as the buses were of 1999 make.

Against the orders of the Inspection Board, the transport department has gone in for appeal before the Secretary, Transport. The STA has been asked to give its reply before the Secretary passes any order.



Labourers desert Ghaggar riverbed area
Row between mining department and contractors has left them jobless
Arun Sharma
Tribune News Service

Labourers depart from the Ghaggar riverbed area, near Panchkula, on Friday.
Labourers depart from the Ghaggar riverbed area, near Panchkula, on Friday. A Tribune photograph

Panchkula, May 9
Jalla road, on the bank of river Ghaggar, was an area buzzing with hectic activities one month ago, providing livelihood to thousands of families for decades including labourers, vegetable vendors, dhaba wallas and five liquor vendors. Today, the area from Burj Kotian to Jalla village - known as the crusher zone - has turned into a deserted slum.

Majority of workers employed at the crushers, washing plants and for quarrying at the river bed have left for other destinations in search of a job, leaving behind thousands of empty huts and idle machinery in hundreds of plants.

In fact, the dispute between contractors and the mining department over reserve price of bid of Ghaggar riverbed has resulted in no work on the site since the old contract expired on March 31. No auction could be held after the code of conduct for the by-elections of assembly seats in the state were declared. The sequence of events, however, left a trail of hunger and losses to many of were dependent on the earnings of these labourers.

There were more than 5,000 labourers and including their families it was more than 20 thousand people who were settled along the river bed spanning over five kilomtres, said Prem Singh, a labourer who came here from Moradabad a few years ago.

“The people here were involved in work for many years and kept on staying for one month without earning a single penny in the hope that work would start again,” said Prem. “Now they have started leaving for other destinations and merely a few dozen families are staying back,” he added.

The exodus of laboures has made the situation tough for the vendors as well as their earnings have taken a dip. “I got a license for the vend after depositing lakhs of rupees with the excise department in the hope of good sales in the area. Now after the labourers have left, survival is difficult,” said the owner of a liquor vend. However, the shopkeepers have not lost all hope. “The auction of the riverbed would again pull labour back,” said Mahavir, owner of a dhaba here.



Appointments on compassionate grounds
CAT orders quick disposal of cases
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 9
In a significant order, affecting many people whose appointments on compassionate grounds were hanging fire, the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) has directed the Horticulture Department to take up such cases immediately.

The issue came to light after an application was filed by Rajinder Singh, whose appointment on compassionate grounds is pending for the past 16 years.

The tribunal asked the respondents to refer the case of the applicant to the secretary so that a decision was taken at the earliest.

Taking up the issue of delay in such cases, the CAT stated that whatever decision was taken on the application, the same should be upheld promptly in other cases in the case of deceased employees.

Commenting on the delay in similar cases, the CAT headed by Shyama Dogra observed: “The court would like to observe that the attitude of respondents of sitting over the matters relating to compassionate appointment is not appreciated. The authorities concerned are directed to consider such cases at the earliest and within a short period so that the dependents of the deceased employee get immediate financial assistance for the purpose of which this scheme is formulated.”

Rajinder Singh, resident of Lakhnaur village in Ropar, averred that his father was working as a gardener with the department. His father died on August 19, 1990. Since the applicant was a minor then, he was not appointed. Rajinder moved a request in 1997 for appointing him. He also filed an affidavit that his mother had no objection if he was employed in place of his father.

Thereafter he made representations but his appointment was rejected on the ground that his case was not considered under instructions issued by the UT administration.

The department argued that the applicant had filed the application after 16 years of his father’s death. Thus the claim of the applicant could not be entertained after such a long period.



Computer system at RLA lets applicants down
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 9
For the last two days, the state-of-the-art Sector 17 office of the Registration and Licensing Authority (RLA) has been of little help to the those applying for driving licences and registration copies.

Reason, the computer system has been out of order due to some technical problem in the central server, installed in the office.

Visitors complained that the authority had failed to issue a public notice to inform them about the technical problem.

A visit to the office revealed that a simple notice had been pasted outside the RLA building, informing the public about the non- functional computers. An official said it would take a few days to rectify the computer server.

Subash Kumar, who had gone to collect the driving licence of his daughter, said, “It is my second visit. They did not inform me not to come today”.



Liquor shops to remain closed
Tribune News Service

Mohali, May 9
All liquor shops in the district would remain closed on May 12 and May 14 in view of the Zila Parishad and Block Samiti elections in the district. These orders were issued by the Deputy Commissioner SAS Nagar, here today.

The elections to the ten seats of the Zila Parishad and 75 seats of the three block samitis would be held on May 12. The counting of the polled votes would be done on May 14. As many as 394 polling booths have been put in place for the elections.

Meanwhile, the local police have also made elaborate arrangements for the peaceful conduct of elections. The SSP R.S. Khatra said each block would be under the supervision of an SP and a DSP.

The polling booths would also have adequate number of police personnel on duty, said the SSP. Other than the staff posted at these booths as many as 20 patrolling parties would be on duty to cover these booths.

The SSP said till date weapons have been collected from about 400 licensed weapon holders in the district.



Panel examines parking lots
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 9
Members of the parking committee led by the chairman NPS Chawla today inspected different parking lots in Sectors 17 and 22.

The committee inspected and challaned the contractors for violating parking rules. Along with members of the fire and enforcement departments, the committee took a round of the Bank Square in Sector 17 besides other parking lots.

The committee inspected the fire equipment and requested the employees to start a foolproof system in order to avoid confusion. The committee also removed encroachments from the parking lots and issued challans. An inspection that was carried for over four hours ended at the Sector 22 parking lot.



Local BJP chief poll tomorrow
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 9
The election to the post of the president of the local unit of the BJP and the members of the national council of the party will be held on May 11.

According to a press note, Avinash Rai Khanna, MP, has been appointed the election officer. While the filing of the nomination would be from 11 am to 11 noon on May 10, the withdrawal timings would be from 12.30 pm to 1.30 pm the same day.



LIC assn’s zonal conference tomorrow

Chandigarh, May 9
The Welfare Association of LIC, SCs, STs and Buddhist Employees and Officers will hold its Northern Zonal Conference on May 11 at Makhan Shah Lubana Bhawan, Sector 30, here. The minister of state (finance) will be the chief guest while Buta Singh, chairman of the National Commission for SCs, will preside over the function. — TNS



Exam postponed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 9
The Statistical Investigator Grade IV Examination, conducted by the Staff Selection Commission, scheduled to be held on May 25, 2008, has been postponed due to administrative reasons. The fresh date of examination will be intimated to the candidates in due course.



Panchkula power woes

Though summer is yet to peak, Panchkula residents have started facing the heat of power shortage and unscheduled power cuts for hours daily. Worse part is consumers are not made aware in advance about the same.

Residents of the township have to brave the heat and humidity due to unscheduled power cuts. All through the day as well as night power plays hide and seek. Residents are left sweating for hours together. Frequent tripping aggravates the problem. Power crisis has thrown normal life out of gear.

In the absence of power supply, water supply is also suspended.. Power supply should be made regular and also, public should be informed about the power cuts in advance.

Dr Shruti Kapoor, Panchkula

Readers are invited to write to us. Send your mail, in not more than 200 words, at news@tribuneindia.com or, write in, at: Letters, Chandigarh Tribune, Sector 29, Chandigarh – 160 030



Shivalik Public’s recognition issue resolved
School to implement 15 pc reservation
G. S. Paul
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 9
Now all is well with Shivalik Public School, Sector 41, as far as the school’s provisional recognition is concerned. For, the school authorities have agreed to implement 15 per cent reservation for students belonging to economically weaker sections (EWS).

This issue, prominent among others raised by the administration, has reached a mutual consent line with the condition that the school authorities will implement this reservation scheme from the entry class.

The scheme will be executed in a phased manner within three years to complete 15 per cent reservation of the school’s total strength.

The school authorities will submit an undertaking in the shape of an affidavit in a week’s time.

Director-principal of the school D.S. Bedi said, “It has been decided that reservation in our school will be introduced in the starting classes, which will keep increasing each year by a class.”

The department had issued a show-cause notice pointing towards various discrepancies prevailing in the school like non-compliance with 15 per cent reservation quota for EWS students, violation of building norms, non-maintenance of school accounts particularly PF accounts and details of staff salaries.

The education department had contested the school’s autonomy, criteria of admissions, fixation of fee and funds etc on the basis of various judgments of the Supreme Court, mentioned in their reply to the show-cause notice. The point was contested in pursuance of clause 26 and 27 of the allotment letter governed and binding by the estate officer, Chandigarh, stating, “Admission to the institution shall be subject to such directions/ instructions which the DPI (S), Chandigarh, may issue from time to time.”

DPI (S) S.K. Setia said, “Before the renewal of their provisional recognition, the school authorities will have to comply with the terms and conditions of the administration. The aspect of building violations and not obtaining occupational certificate will be looked after by the estate office.”

The administration is also examining the status of its participation in the Chandigarh Independent School Association.

Bedi, who is also president of the association, said, “We will call our general body meeting shortly. A meeting has been scheduled with the education secretary later this month to discuss the issues.”

Income of the parents who seek admission for their wards under this category should be upto Rs 1 lakh per annum and they will be charged very nominal fee, which will be commensurate with those charged from students of government schools.



From Schools
DAV school teacher honoured
Tribune News Service

Mohali, May 9
The DAV College Managing Committee, New Delhi, has decided to honour Jaya Bhardwaj, Principal DAV Public Senior Secondary School , Phase-X, Mohali, for her valuable contribution in the field of education and social service. She would be presented with the award on Friday in New Delhi on Mahatma Hansraj Day. The DAV College Managing Committee honours its principals who had rendered significant services for the organisation every year on the Mahatma Hansraj Day. She had also taken up two projects Shradha and Saplings aimed at social service and environmental awareness. Under the Shradha project, a core group of teachers goes to the doorstep of the underprivileged to provide them educational facilities whereas under Saplings a tree plantation drive is undertaken on yearly basis by the group. She had been given `Ideal Principal' award by a Pune based Creative Art Academy.

Red Cross Day: Slogan making, creative writing and poetry recitation marked ‘World Red Cross Day’ celebration in Genius Public School, Sector 69. Students of Class VII held a rally by shouting slogans, ‘Donate Blood’, ‘Stop using weapons’, ‘Give first aid to injured,’ ‘Don’t take drugs and ‘Eat balanced diet’.

Mother’s Day: The celebration of 'Mother's Day' at St Soldiers', Phase 7, was an emotional and joyous extravaganza. The celebrations began with the students of Kindergarten performing a skit. A tiara decoration competition was held.

Meanwhile, Manav Mangal Smart School will be celebrating Mother’s Day on the May 10 from 9 am to 1 pm. All students from pre-nursery to Class VIII made cards for the mother’s which carried the invitation for the celebration.

The school in association with Shahnaz Husain’s Herbal will be distributing a discount coupon to all mother’s for various beauty treatments.

Sherwood convent school celebrated "Mother's Day". Sherwood Convent School organized a unique contest "My Mom is the best" for the students of primary classes. The teachers told the different stories like "The widow and her three sons", "My Mom" to the students. The teachers advised their students to give flowers to their mother. The students also made beautiful cards.

Kindergarten wing of DIS was filled with the feeling of love towards mother as Mother's day was celebrated with the emotions and sentiments showing the gratitude and the little hearts of tiny toddlers saying thanks to their mother. They made beautiful cards with vegetable painting, colouring and decorated them with glitters.

The tiny tots of Gian Jyoti Public School, Phase 2, Mohali, seemed to be thrilled in their Red attire to celebrate red day. On this day the tiny tots were splendidly dressed up in nice gaudy Red colour. Red tiffins, Red flowers, Red objects, Red balloons, Red vegetables and fruits and even red bags infact the class rooms wore red look. Principal Ranjeet Bedi appreciated the teachers for making the day a big success and side by side working innovatively for the concept building amongst the students.

Saupins’ School here celebrated mothers day with fan fare. The children of classes I to V were rewarded for the academic excellence. An interesting pot pouri of songs and dances thrilled the parents as they encouraged their musical melodies. A competition was also held for the mothers.

Mother Day was celebrated at Anees School Kharar with enthusiasm. The tiny tots of the school were attired in bright clothes and presented various dance shows. The school principal appreciated the efforts of the students and teachers and said it was a meaningful function. She urged the students to continue putting in their sincere.



UILS rejoinder

In a letter sent by University Institute of Legal Studies, PU, disputing the Chandigarh Tribune’s story, “UILS director’s role doubtful: PUSU” by Smriti Sharma published on May 6, the director of the institute has stated that the day when Simrandeep Singh was attacked, he was not lying profusely bleeding on the ground, rather he was picked up from the examination hall and brought to the staff room, where he was put to rest on a sofa, given a pain killer, water and soothed.

In the meanwhile, police ambulance and the hospital authorities were called up by the faculty members. The director did not even waste a single second to wait for the ambulance and rushed to call the doctor himself and the police to the department. The director informed the PCR personally who were standing near the law department and proceeded further to the university dispensary to call the doctor to the department. During this process, one of the members called up Simrandeep Sandhu’s parents, informed them and also updated them about him being taken to Sector 16 and later, being shifted to PGI.

During this process, it was just a matter of chance that the police came a few seconds earlier than the university ambulance and doctor and became a source of Simrandeep’s shifting to the hospital. During this time also, one of the members of the staff accompanied Simrandeep to the hospital and came back only when his parents had reached the hospital. He informed the director that Simrandeep was being shifted to the PGI from Sector 16 and Dr Grewal, along with the DSW, reached PGI much before Simrandeep.

Smriti Sharma responds

I stand by the contents of my story. Nowhere, Dr R.S. Grewal is denying the story. Factually, in his version, he is further elaborating the sequence of events that took place on that fateful day which, for a reporter, becomes difficult because of lack of space. However, the director’s claim that he had taken the victim to the hospital is not true. In fact, a UT police cop named, Shiv, had taken the injured victim to the hospital.

Moreover, on the day of the incident, it was mentioned in all news reports that the assaulters also thrashed the director when he tried to save the victim from their clutches and he identified the assaulters. For three days, the director didn’t dispute that, it was only when he was asked for his version on May 5 that he categorically denied of being attacked at all and said, “It’s not my duty to go to the police and record my statements, the police has to come to me.”



From Schools
Mums, kids celebrate Mothers’ Day
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 9
Toddlers at Tender Heart School-33 celebrated Mothers’ Day by welcoming their mothers with roses. The day saw vivacious and fun-filled action as kids and their moms had a field day reveling in the gala celebrations, trying their hands at flower arrangements and rangoli making. The young mothers participated in musical chairs and winners were given gift hampers.

KUNDAN INTERNATIONAL: Games, activities and competitions involving students and their mothers stole the limelight today during the Mothers’ Day celebrations at Kundan International School-46. The day started with Mother's Day rhyme singing competition by tiny tots followed by exciting games. The noon saw a moms’ talent show with jubilant mothers showcasing their talents.

St JOSEPH’S: Various competitions were organised to mark Mothers’ Day at St Joseph’s Senior Secondary School, Sector 44 D. Tiny tots of play class and pre-KG made special cards and for their mothers.

AKSIPS: AKSIPS-41 campus was bubbling with joy and excitement as pre-primary children were on cloud nine to have their mothers along with them on the school premises to celebrate Mothers’ Day with great zest and exuberance. Dressed in their best, the mothers turned up in big strength during the Mothers’ Day celebrations held at school premises. An exciting and fun-filled session of games was also held.



PUTA to continue stir during summer vacation
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 9
The relay fast on the call of the Joint Action Committee demanding Central varsity status for Panjab University completed 33 days today. It was the turn of the department of philosophy today. Among the teachers, Prof Veena Kapoor, Prof Geeta Manaktala, Dr H.P. Sah, Dr Shivani Sharma along with Dr V.T. Sebastian, chairman of the department, sat on the fast. Two research scholars, Amit Kumar and Menika also sat on the fast.

The JAC also held the meeting and decided to continue with the chain fast even during the summer vacation, in case the governments at the Centre as well as in Punjab refuse to listen to the protests of the teachers, students and employees. It has also been decided that in due course of time, JAC leadership would approach those parents and teachers from Punjab whose children would benefit from the Central status of PU.

In a section of the vernacular press today, mischievous news appeared where the entire agitation for the Central university status for PU has been dubbed as a move for making Chandigarh a UT permanently. In the JAC meeting, a serious note was taken of this calculated distortion and it was decided to appeal to the media not to try to find any ulterior motive behind the just movement for saving PU from the ongoing financial crunch.



Teachers given peace awards
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 9
As part of the ongoing ‘Campaign for Peace City Chandigarh’, Yuvsatta, peace club of KB DAV-7 and DAV College, with support of the education department, Chandigarh administration, organised a peace awards presentation function and a two-day peace trainers’ training programme at DAV College, in which seven principals and incharge of peace clubs were honoured. Justice Surya Kant, Judge, Punjab and Haryana High Court, was the chief guest and S.K. Setia, DPI (schools), presided over the event.

Justice Surya Kant honoured Pritinder Kaur, peace club incharge of Government Model Senior Secondary School, Sector 32D, with Dr KBS Dhillon Memorial Shantidoot Puraskar carrying a commendation certificate, a shawl and Rs 5,100 cash.

Kailash Bahl BS Bahl Award for the best peace club of the city went to Government Model High School, Sector 36. Five other teachers were honoured with special commendation certificates and Gandhian books.



From Courts
Kingfisher to pay Rs 11,000 for losing luggage
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 8
The District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum has directed the chairman, the manager and the manager, cargo flight of Kingfisher Airlines, to pay a compensation of Rs 11,150 for deficiency in service to a resident of Sector 32 here.

The airlines was also asked to pay Rs 1,100 as cost of litigation.

The petitioner, Sandeep Saksena, stated that he purchased return air tickets of the private airlines for a trip from Delhi to Kolkata after making a payment of Rs 6,600. The petitioner stated that before boarding the flight, he got his luggage checked. However, on reaching Kolkata, he was shocked to find that his bag containing necessary articles was missing from the flight. He reported about the missing luggage to the ground staff who told him that the bag was lost in transit. Sandeep averred that before leaving the airport, the airlines offered him interim compensation of Rs 2,000 and assured him that if they were not able to recover the luggage, the entire loss would be compensated. He added that the baggage contained goods worth Rs 15,000.

Thereafter Sandeep contacted the airlines several times, but his luggage was untraced.

The airlines accepted that the baggage of the petitioner was misplaced. It was stated that as per the conditions of the carriage, the loss to baggage is limited to INR 450 per kilogram. Thus as per the weight of the luggage, Sandeep is entitled to compensation of INR 3,150 that amounts to Rs 3,150.

The forum headed by Jagroop Singh Mahal stated: “Keeping all the facts and circumstances in view, we are of the opinion that the complainant felt harassment and humiliation and, therefore, he should be paid a sum of Rs 10,000 as compensation.”

Acquitted: Additional district and sessions judge Raj Rahul Garg today acquitted Jatinder Singh in a rape case after the witnesses turned hostile.

According to the prosecution, Jatinder allegedly abducted and raped the girl, who was a minor, on November 5, 2005. On the complaint of the grandmother of the girl, an FIR was registered. The eyewitness who saw the boy abducting the girl along with the complainant turned hostile.

The complainant deposed before the court today and stated that the girl was an adult.



Advocate files PIL on vacancy in consumer panel
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 8
Following a news article carried by the Tribune on posts vacant in Punjab Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, a local advocate, H.C. Arora, has filed a public interest litigation (PIL) on the same issue today.

The petition stated that the working of the commission could come to a standstill after the retirement of the first woman member of the commission, Jasbir Kaur, whose tenure would expire on May 16. Another member, Budhi Chander Prakash, had already retired in February this year. It was further added that the commission was already reeling under the burden of backlog.

The petition further mentioned that the statuary committee formed under the Act had interviewed candidates on March 10 and sent its recommendations on March 13 to the principle secretary, foods and supply. However, the authorities concerned have failed to appoint new members here.



High Court
Union govt told to release family pension
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 9
Justice Hemant Gupta and Justice Mohinder Pal have directed the Union government to release special family pension to the widow of a Master Warrant Officer of the Air Force. He had died of heart attack, 18 years back, at the Chandimandir Military hospital here.

The widow, P.M. Annamma, with the help of All-India Ex-servicemen Welfare Association, had moved the high court, after the Union Ministry of Defence had denied her the special family pension. She had prayed for quashing the orders passed by the respondents, who had rejected her claim for a special family pension.



33 estate office employees reshuffled
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 9
In a major move in the UT estate office, at least 33 employees were reshuffled today. The employees were holding on to one post for more than three years in violation of the guidelines of the Central Vigilance Commission.

The reshuffled employees are from different wings of the estate office. The estate officer, RK Rao, has also made a recommendation to the UT Chief Engineer for the transfer of four employees of the building branch.

Sources said the reshuffling had been done after verifying the records of the employees. A number of posts in the estate office are considered sensitive posts.



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